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July 2, 2014

Attorney General to withdraw contempt archives plans

Category: News

Tags: archives, Attorney General, contempt, law reform, online publication

Government to withdraw clauses from Criminal Justice and Courts Bill


The Attorney General has announced, via written statement to Parliament, that the Government plans to withdraw clauses 51 and 52 from the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill. The clauses, if they became law, would have given the Attorney General the power to require publishers of online news archives to remove material which might prejudice upcoming proceedings. The clauses stemmed from a Law Commission report published at the end of last year.

The press opposed the clauses, and made representations to the Attorney General. There was concern that the proposals gave the Attorney General too much power, about how the system would operate in practice (including the risk of defence lawyers seeking blanket take-down orders), and about the chilling effect of the changes.

In his statement the Attorney General said that the Government had listened to the concerns expressed and would amend the Bill to withdraw the clauses at the earliest opportunity. He added: ‘While the government considers that the notice provision would be an improvement for the media, courts and attorneys-general alike, it is satisfied that the existing law will continue to provide satisfactory protection to the integrity of legal proceedings.”

Read the Attorney General’s written statement here.

Links:

Press Gazette – Attorney General backs down on plan to censor news archives to avoid contempt risk.

Guardian – Government to amend criminal justice bill to avoid press freedom threat

Law Gazette – Media take-down plans ditched